Weber State University students, faculty, alumni and community members gathered at the Val A. Browning Center for the Performing Arts on Friday evening for a gala and concert celebrating the endowment of the new Sid & Mary Foulger School of Music..
The event was free and open to the public and featured a video tribute, music by faculty members, students and community members, some of whom were WSU alumni. Throughout the evening, President Ann Millner, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities Madonne Miner, and Sid Foulger himself made remarks to the audience. After the concert, a dessert reception was held in the foyer.
“It’s a really successful evening,” said Shannon Talbot, cellist and WSU alumna, after her performance. “There’s a good audience. It’s good to see the community come out and be able to see all the great musicians that the school’s supporting.”
Doors opened at 7 p.m. with a small jazz combo playing outside the Browning Center. The concert began at 7:30 and featured the music of Ludwig van Beethoven, Frederic Francois Chopin and Joseph-Maurice Ravel, among others. Performances were by Chamber Orchestra Ogden, WSU Chamber Choir and WSU students, alumni and staff. The event closed with five grand pianos on stage performing “Rhapsody in Blue” with WSU students Fan-Ya Lin, Jared Jaccard, Maggie Whatcott, Ling-Yu Lee and Eliza Taylor on the pianos.
“A lot of music was selected because it’s the kind of music that (Foulger) loves,” Miner said. “And since he’s making this generous gift, we wanted to do something that he particularly would enjoy. It’s, in a sense, our attempt to say thank you to Mr. Foulger and to include the community in this celebration.”
In April of 2012, Foulger announced a $5 million gift to endow the music program at WSU. Foulger is passionate about music and made his gift specifically to that area.
“The very generous pledge that he has made will allow us to fund scholarships, purchase instruments, bring in musicians to perform and lead master classes, send the students to competitions, and overall excel,” Miner said. “One of the very nicest things about his gift is essentially he hasn’t put restrictions on it. He simply said, ‘Do what you need to do with this money to make this the best music school possible.’ And we intend to do that.”
Concert-goers were unanimous in applauding the generosity of the gift.
“It’s a wonderful thing for the department of performing arts and for the school in general,” Talbot said. “It’s going to be a huge boon to the students here and the faculty as well.”
The gift is wonderful as far as musical performing arts at WSU go, Miner said.
“I think what has happened over the last few years is, because we’ve attracted very, very talented faculty,” Miner said, “we’ve also been getting better and better students, and they’ve been attracting more and more attention. So Weber’s reputation has been climbing, and I expect it will continue to climb with this infusion of support.”